Positivity is a choice. Is it yours?

It’s 7:16 on a Monday morning. You slept through your alarm and the cat started eating your breakfast for you while your back was turned.  You run out to the car, peel out of the driveway in every attempt to get to work on time and then it happens: the world’s slowest driver cuts you off on 494. What do you do next?

Whether you simply survive the following work day or have the best day of your life depends entirely on your next move. Choose wisely.

Say you choose option one. You freak out, scream in the general direction of the traffic offender, exercise use of your horn and really give him a piece of your mind. Do that and you may just find yourself on the receiving end of a ticket or headlining on the 8 a.m. traffic report as the cause of the morning’s first accident.

But don’t worry, I don’t think you choose option one. I think you choose option two, in which you take a breath, realize any abrasive move you make will likely not have any effect on the way this person drives, and you let off the gas, effectively creating a safe stopping distance between the two of you once again. The fact you were cut off on the freeway means no more to you now than when the local taco joint raised their prices for the steak tacos (but let’s be real for a second – I know tacos are a big part of all of our lives … I have to think we’ll get through this together).

Since you chose option two, you get to work on time and in one piece, you smile at your coworkers, answer all the emails that came in overnight with a level head and even feel happy enough to buy your team lunch.

Congratulations, you didn’t let one negative thing ruin your entire day! You’ve officially accomplished more in two waking hours than many people accomplish all week!

It takes courage to “be the bigger person” – to understand that just because someone treats you badly or something bad happens to you doesn’t mean the rest of the world deserves to be treated badly by you. Some of the happiest people I know are those who smile when it’s pouring and make a conscious decision to laugh through the pain.

Think about when you were your happiest. Was everything in your life perfect? I’d bet not.

The happiest times in my life were often accompanied by devastating events – the fact that I graduated college while my grandpa suffered with worsening Alzheimer’s and eventually passed being the freshest in my mind.

How did I get through that? I leaned on my then-fiancé for support, I expressed my grief through photography and ultimately decided to celebrate his life and the things he loved instead of dwell on the sadness I was feeling for the void that now existed in my family’s lives. I decided to be positive.

It’s important to be able to take a step back from your problems and appreciate all the good things going on. Letting one bad thing, no matter how trivial or earth-shattering, change the course of your entire day/week/month is beneath you – you’re too strong for that!

Happiness is infectious. Smiles, like yawning and the common cold, are contagious.

Have you ever heard the theory that the simple act of smiling can help cheer up even the saddest person? When you smile, you’re reminding your body what it feels like to express happiness, which paves the way to feeling true happiness.

While I’m not sure the exact science behind this, I do believe in it 100 percent and would be willing to bet it would work for you too. I understand sometimes smiling is the hardest thing to do, but it could mean the difference between a terrible day and a write-home-to-mom-wonderful type of day. I think no matter how dire the situation, trying to smile is always worth a shot.

I bet you’re thinking of them right now … that person in your life who always turns a bad situation into a positive one. You may be envious of their ability to make the best out of any situation or even think they’re a little naïve for always being so positive, but I happen to find them to be the most refreshing people in the room.

Next time you’re feeling a little down, go find that person and ask them to make you smile. Ask them to tell you a joke or to poke fun at last night’s Bachelor episode with you (Me! Me! I’ll do that!). Before you know it you may be that person to someone else – the person they can rely on to help them start feeling happy again.

After all, wouldn’t that be a better way to spend your time than performing high-speed revenge maneuvers on the highway at 7 a.m.?

Now go on, get out there and choose positivity. You’ll be a happier person for it.

Written by: Stephanie Helseth, Administrative Assistant